Science

Challenge twenty-four on my 30/30 day/blog challenge and the title is ‘Science’. My dad was a scientist and so was his brother, and I would have liked nothing better than to be like my dad and be a scientist. Unfortunately – but only in the sense of that infant ambition, I was no good at it. When I say no good, science was taught in a way which didn’t encourage enthusiasm and I was away from school for six weeks with glandular fever in the second year when we first started it, and never quite caught up. In those distant times there was no expectation of a broad balanced curriculum (and I suspect the same is true today) so I was able to give up science after two or was it three years. I’m sure my teachers weren’t sorry, I remember asking the physics teacher ‘what is a flame‘ and even when she explained it, it didn’t really answer my question.

Lois: excuse me Miss Smith, I don’t really understand, what is a flame?
Miss Smith looking baffled: it’s the visible part of fire.
Lois (saying in her head, yes, I know that!): but what exactly is it, what’s it made of?
Miss Smith: it isn’t made of anything, it’s a chemical reaction.
Lois (I know it is, you told us in class): I see… but what is it – what is it actually?
Miss Smith totally baffled, just looks at me.
Lois: thank you Miss Smith I understand now… (actually I don’t and you haven’t answered the question): I have to go to my next class now, thank you…

I remember spending about seven years (I’m exaggerating) drawing equipment, hour after hour – okay, maybe it was only a couple of weeks’ worth of lessons, but far more than was necessary, learning to draw experiments, but most of all I remember the absolute disappointment that although the science labs smelt like my dad’s lab, nothing we did was remotely like any of the things he did.

My dad worked in the Low Temperature Research Station from about 1948 to 1969; it was a scientific institute researching – as the name implies, what happened to things, especially meat at very low temperatures:

By 1922… the Low Temperature Research Station (LTRS) opened with William Hardy (Director of Food Investigation at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) as its Superintendent. This came about because of a recommendation by the Food Investigation Board to set up a ‘cold storage laboratory’ and, given a research environment… (and) Cambridge was the obvious place for it.

My dad was a scientific analyst and had to do experiments using all sorts of equipment, much of the glassware he had made for him or made himself as it was so specific to the work he was doing. In 1962, sixty-nine original papers were published by the research station, and in that same year, the LTRS had a leading rôle in organising the first ever International Congress of Food Science and Technology. This took place in London and I remember dad went up to take part, along with other people from the Low Temp as it was known. They contributed 27 papers to the programme, and there were guests and fellow scientists from eighty members of the Congress from overseas, including some of the most eminent men and women in the scientific world at that time.

These are some of the projects that dad and the other scientists were working on in 1962:

  • The Contribution of Connective Tissue to the Toughness of Meat
  • Some Recent Histological Aspects of Texture in Meat
  • Physiological Considerations in the Production of Eggs and Table Poultry
  • Blackening of Plant Tissues
  • Ethylene Oxide and the Ripening of Fruit
  • Problems of Resistant Organisms in the Preservation of Foods with Antibiotics
  • Radiation Chemistry in Food Research

One thing I remember very clearly, was him working on elastin; several papers were published on it, and this one in 1963 in the scientific journal, Nature volume197, pages1297–1298:

Constitution of the Cross-linkages in Elastin – S. M. Partridge, D. F. Elsden & J. Thomas – cite this article

Abstract: elastin is insoluble in all reagents except those which break peptide bonds, and when wet the protein behaves as a typical rubber-like solid1. These characteristics, together with the swelling properties, are consistent with the view that elastin can be regarded as a cross-linked polymer gel containing long peptide chains randomly crumpled and held laterally at intervals by strong chemical bonds2. In an attempt to isolate small regions of the peptide network containing the cross-links, Thomas and Partridge3 degraded the protein by use of a succession of proteolytic enzymes followed by amino- and carboxy-peptidases. The product consisted of amino-acids and small peptides together with a fraction of higher molecular weight. This fraction was isolated and was found to be bright yellow in colour with the blue-white fluorescence characteristic of elastin fibres.

Another very important discovery – and which I believe was named by Dad’s team lead by S.M. (Samuel Miles) Partridge.

,was desmosine – to find out more here is a link to one of the papers they wrote : 

Biosynthesis of the desmosine and isodesmosine cross-bridges in elastinS M PartridgeD F ElsdenJ ThomasA DorfmanA TelserP L Ho

 In 1963, when they were working on this significant research, an announcement was made in Parliament, as reported in Hansard:

The Agricultural Research Council proposes to continue the work of this station (LTRS) at two new institutions, the Meat Research Institute near Bristol, and the Food Research Institute at Norwich, when the premises in Cambridge have to be vacated.

Four years later we moved to Somerset where my dad began to work at the Meat Research Institute. It was a long way from Cambridge where he, and we had been born and brought up, but it was probably just as well we came west instead of east, as his brother became the director of the Food Research Institute at Norwich.

My dad was only a member of a team, but a very valued member and here is a link to research papers he was named on: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Elsden+DF&cauthor_id=5839176

Challenge twenty-four on my 30/30 day/blog challenge and the title is ‘Science’. My dad was a scientist and so was his brother, and I would have liked nothing better than to be like my dad and be a scientist. Unfortunately – but only in the sense of that infant ambition, I was no good at it. When I say no good, science was taught in a way which didn’t encourage enthusiasm and I was away from school for six weeks with glandular fever in the second year when we first started it, and never quite caught up. In those distant times there was no expectation of a broad balanced curriculum (and I suspect the same is true today) so I was able to give up science after two or was it three years. I’m sure my teachers weren’t sorry, I remember asking the physics teacher ‘what is a flame‘ and even when she explained it, it didn’t really answer my question.

Lois: excuse me Miss Smith, I don’t really understand, what is a flame?
Miss Smith looking baffled: it’s the visible part of fire.
Lois (saying in her head, yes, I know that!): but what exactly is it, what’s it made of?
Miss Smith: it isn’t made of anything, it’s a chemical reaction.
Lois (I know it is, you told us in class): I see… but what is it – what is it actually?
Miss Smith totally baffled, just looks at me.
Lois: thank you Miss Smith I understand now… (actually I don’t and you haven’t answered the question): I have to go to my next class now, thank you…

I remember spending about seven years (I’m exaggerating) drawing equipment, hour after hour – okay, maybe it was only a couple of weeks’ worth of lessons, but far more than was necessary, learning to draw experiments, but most of all I remember the absolute disappointment that although the science labs smelt like my dad’s lab, nothing we did was remotely like any of the things he did.

My dad worked in the Low Temperature Research Station from about 1948 to 1969; it was a scientific institute researching – as the name implies, what happened to things, especially meat at very low temperatures:

By 1922… the Low Temperature Research Station (LTRS) opened with William Hardy (Director of Food Investigation at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research) as its Superintendent. This came about because of a recommendation by the Food Investigation Board to set up a ‘cold storage laboratory’ and, given a research environment… (and) Cambridge was the obvious place for it.

My dad was a scientific analyst and had to do experiments using all sorts of equipment, much of the glassware he had made for him or made himself as it was so specific to the work he was doing. In 1962, sixty-nine original papers were published by the research station, and in that same year, the LTRS had a leading rôle in organising the first ever International Congress of Food Science and Technology. This took place in London and I remember dad went up to take part, along with other people from the Low Temp as it was known. They contributed 27 papers to the programme, and there were guests and fellow scientists from eighty members of the Congress from overseas, including some of the most eminent men and women in the scientific world at that time.

These are some of the projects that dad and the other scientists were working on in 1962:

  • The Contribution of Connective Tissue to the Toughness of Meat
  • Some Recent Histological Aspects of Texture in Meat
  • Physiological Considerations in the Production of Eggs and Table Poultry
  • Blackening of Plant Tissues
  • Ethylene Oxide and the Ripening of Fruit
  • Problems of Resistant Organisms in the Preservation of Foods with Antibiotics
  • Radiation Chemistry in Food Research

One thing I remember very clearly, was him working on elastin; several papers were published on it, and this one in 1963 in the scientific journal, Nature volume197, pages1297–1298:

Constitution of the Cross-linkages in Elastin – S. M. Partridge, D. F. Elsden & J. Thomas – cite this article

Abstract: elastin is insoluble in all reagents except those which break peptide bonds, and when wet the protein behaves as a typical rubber-like solid1. These characteristics, together with the swelling properties, are consistent with the view that elastin can be regarded as a cross-linked polymer gel containing long peptide chains randomly crumpled and held laterally at intervals by strong chemical bonds2. In an attempt to isolate small regions of the peptide network containing the cross-links, Thomas and Partridge3 degraded the protein by use of a succession of proteolytic enzymes followed by amino- and carboxy-peptidases. The product consisted of amino-acids and small peptides together with a fraction of higher molecular weight. This fraction was isolated and was found to be bright yellow in colour with the blue-white fluorescence characteristic of elastin fibres.

Another very important discovery – and which I believe was named by Dad’s team lead by S.M. (Samuel Miles) Partridge.

,was desmosine – to find out more here is a link to one of the papers they wrote : 

Biosynthesis of the desmosine and isodesmosine cross-bridges in elastinS M PartridgeD F ElsdenJ ThomasA DorfmanA TelserP L Ho

 In 1963, when they were working on this significant research, an announcement was made in Parliament, as reported in Hansard:

The Agricultural Research Council proposes to continue the work of this station (LTRS) at two new institutions, the Meat Research Institute near Bristol, and the Food Research Institute at Norwich, when the premises in Cambridge have to be vacated.

Four years later we moved to Somerset where my dad began to work at the Meat Research Institute. It was a long way from Cambridge where he, and we had been born and brought up, but it was probably just as well we came west instead of east, as his brother became the director of the Food Research Institute at Norwich.

My dad was only a member of a team, but a very valued member and here is a link to research papers he was named on: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Elsden+DF&cauthor_id=5839176

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